Brandy Rand

Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer

Refrigerator Aperitifs: My Love for Cocchi Americano

When the top shelf of your refrigerator begins to resemble a bar, well, I guess it’s time to make some cocktails.

Finding the creamer for my morning coffee requires navigation through frosty European aperitif bottles and bubbly (chilled and ready for special occasions…but mostly just a Monday night episode of No Reservations). I realize our fridge contents may be a bit unusual compared to most – my best friend has baby bottles in hers – but they serve a purpose.

Aperitifs are designed to open up the appetite before a meal. Much more common in Europe, these lower-alcohol tipples have been around for centuries. Most are made from fortified wines mixed with herbs and spices. Vermouth*, for example, is consumed on the rocks in other countries, but here in the United States, we’ve commonly relegated it to a drop in very, very dry martinis. (Tsk, tsk.) In my house, we practice being Franco-Italian often, sipping a lovely and complex sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica on the rocks while making dinner.

My habitual favorite is Cocchi Americano (pronounced “COKE-ey”) a once obscure Italian aperitif that finally made it stateside in 2010. It’s made from Moscato di Asti grapes found in the Piedmont region, then fortified and flavored with cinchona bark, citrus peel, spices and other botanicals. Cinchona gives Cocchi a slightly bitter edge, though not as intense as Campari. The color of a buttery chardonnay, Cocchi is best served on the rocks with an orange twist and perhaps a splash of soda water. Listen to my WBZ Connoisseur’s Corner radio segment on Cocchi.

Now a staple in most craft cocktail bars, Cocchi Americano gives a certain umami to drinks. It goes without saying; there is always a bottle in my fridge, right next to the ketchup. Here are my go-to Cocchi cocktails:

Cocchi Negroni

My husband and I made this up after playing around with various aperitifs to change up the classic negroni.

1 oz. Cocchi Americano
1 oz. Aperol (another fantastic Italian aperitif)
1 oz. Gin
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Strain in to a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Bird Bath

Created by Carrie Cole at Craigie on Main in 2010 but destined to be a classic. Love the clever name that plays off bird-themed labels on all the bottles!

2 oz. Cocchi Americano
1 oz. Scarlet Ibis Rum
1/2 oz. Fighting Cock Bourbon
Stir with ice and strain in to a coupe glass.

*It amazes me how many people keep vermouth opened in a cabinet from snowfall to summer without refrigeration. It’s wine people! It goes bad quickly, especially if left to fester on a shelf until next Christmas. Once opened, chill it, and it will last about a month. Drink up.

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4 comments on “Refrigerator Aperitifs: My Love for Cocchi Americano

  1. kenlacouture
    April 6, 2012

    What fortune to stumble upon this blog.

    Where does one find Cocchi for purchase in the Boston area?

    • liquorgirl
      April 9, 2012

      Marty’s in Newton, Bauer Wine on Newbury I believe, Brix in Boston, central bottle in Cambridge – most of the smaller specialty wine shops and stores. Your local liquor store can also order it for you from the distributor if you ask at no extra charge. Most people don’t knwo what it is, but they can look it up in the journal that all the stores have with all products available in the state. Hope you enjoy!

  2. kenlacouture
    April 12, 2012

    I managed to get to Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis Square and secure a bottle in time to make “The Buckley” our signature cocktail for our Easter dinner (where it was a smash hit). We experimented with making the same drink with Lillet, and I can assure your readers that tracking down Cocchi is *well* worth the effort. As reported elsewhere, the Cocchi adds the necessary bitter kick in the finish, whereas the Lillet version comes across flat.

    Next up: using it to see if I can make my first successful Vesper, after many poor versions using Lillet. Will report in when I get a chance.

    The Buckley: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/drinks/cocktails/spring-brunch/recipes/food/views/The-Buckley-394701

    • liquorgirl
      April 13, 2012

      What an awesome recipe! So excited to try it, thanks for sharing. A Negroni is a top 5 favorite drink of mine, so the Buckley is right up my alley. Good to know that Dave’s sells Cocchi too. We’re taking a pasta class there next month. And if you are ever in Italy, there’s a Cocchi Americano Aperitivo not available in the states that is pretty good. It’s reddish, more of a vermouth style.

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